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[ba-unrev-talk] Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance & The Human Cognome Project

Relative to the Bootstrap Alliance and CITRIS exploring potential
collaborative projects across a wide range of disciplines,  I believe,
the following are interesting new references discovered on the Principia
Cybernetica Website about the Global Brain / Superorganism. <
http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/GBRAINREF.html >    (01)

1) Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance
(pre-publication on-line version)
Robert E. Horn, Visiting Scholar, Stanford University
>    (02)

2) Beginning to Conceptualize the Human Cognome Project (by Robert E.
Horn, Visiting Scholar, Stanford University)
Draft 4/30/02    (03)

A paper prepared for the National Science Foundation Conference on
Converging Technologies (Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno) Draft 4/30/02
<  http://www.stanford.edu/~rhorn/images/artclCncptlzHumnCognomeFIN.pdf
**********    (04)

Excerpts from ref. (1): pp. 124 - 132    (05)

"Visual language is one of the more promising avenues to the improvement
of human performance in the short run (the next 10 to 15 years) (Horn
2000b, 2000c). The current situation is one of considerable diversity
and confusion as a new form of communication arises. But visual language
also represents many great opportunities. People think visually. People
think in language. When words and
visual elements are closely intertwined, we create something new and we
augment our communal intelligence.    (06)

Today, human beings work and think in fragmented ways, but visual
language has the potential to integrate our existing skills to make them
tremendously more effective. With support from developments in
information technology, visual language has the potential for increasing
human “bandwidth,“ the capacity to take in, comprehend, and more
efficiently synthesize large amounts of
new information. It has this capacity on the individual, group, and
organizational levels. As this convergence occurs, visual language will
enhance our ability to communicate, teach, and work in fields such as
nanotechnology and biotechnology." ...    (07)

... "There are several key advantages of the emerging visual-verbal
language:    (08)

a) It facilitates representation. This new language facilitates
presentation of complex, multidimensional visual-verbal thought, and —
with multimedia tools — can incorporate animation, as well. Researchers
and scholars are no longer constrained by the scroll-like thinking of
endless paragraphs of text.    (09)

i) It facilitates big, complex thoughts. Human cognitive effectiveness
and efficiency is constrained by the well-known limitations of working
memory that George Miller identified in 1957 (Miller 1957). Large visual
displays have for some time been known to help us overcome this
bandwidth constraint. But only since the recent advances in visual
language have we been able to imagine a major prosthesis for this human
limitation. The prosthesis consists of a suite of visual language maps.
This visual-verbal language (together with computer-based tools) may
eliminate the major roadblocks to thinking and communicating big,
complex thoughts, i.e., the
problem of representing and communicating mental models of these
thoughts efficiently and effectively.    (010)

This especially includes the so-called “messy” (or “wicked” or
“ill-structured”) problems (Horn 2001a). Problems have straightforward
solutions; messy problems do not. They are    (011)

   * more than complicated and complex; they are ambiguous
   * filled with considerable uncertainty — even as to what the
     conditions are, let alone what the appropriate actions might be
   * bounded by great constraints and tightly interconnected
     economically, socially, politically, and technologically
   * seen differently from different points of view and quite different
   * comprised of many value conflicts
   * often alogical or illogical.    (012)

These kinds of problems are among the most pressing for our country, for
the advancement of civilization, and for humanity; hence, the promise of
better representation and communication of complex ideas using
visual-verbal language constructs has added significance.    (013)

Premises Regarding Visual Language    (014)

"A deep understanding of the patterns of visual language will permit
• more rapid, more effective interdisciplinary communication
• more complex thinking, leading to a new era of thought
• facilitation of business, government, scientific, and technical
• potential breakthroughs in education and training productivity
• greater efficiency and effectiveness in all areas of knowledge
production and distribution
• better cross-cultural communication"    (015)

Readiness for Major Research and Development    (016)

"A number of major jumping-off research platforms have already been
created for the rapid future development of visual language: the Web;
the ability to tag content with XML; database software; drawing
software; a fully tested, widely used content-organizing and tagging
system of structured writing known as Information Mapping® (Horn 1989);
and a growing, systematic understanding of the
patterns of visual-verbal language (Kosslyn 1989, 1994; McCloud 1993;
Horton 1991; Bertin 1983)."    (017)

Rationale for the Visual Language Projects    (018)

"A virtual superhighway for rapid development in visual language can be
opened, and the goals listed above in the premises can be accomplished,
if sufficient funds over the next 15 years are applied to the creation
of tools, techniques, and taxonomies, and to systematically conducting
empirical research on effectiveness and efficiency of components,
syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of this language. These developments,
in turn, will aid the synergy produced in the convergence of
biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and cognitive
science."    (019)

Goals of a Visual-Verbal Language Research Program    (020)

"A research program requires both bold, general goals and specific
landmarks along the way. A major effort to deal with the problem of
increasing complexity and the limitations of our human cognitive
abilities would benefit all human endeavors and could easily be focused
on biotechnology and nanotechnology as prototype test beds. We can
contemplate, thus, the steady, incremental achievement of the following
goals as a realistic result of a major visual language program:    (021)

1 .Provide policymakers with comprehensive visual-verbal models. The
combination of the ability to represent complex mental models and the
ability to collect realtime data will provide sophisticated
decision-making tools for social policy. Highly visual cognitive maps
will facilitate the management of and navigation through major public
policy issues. These maps provide patterned abstractions of policy
landscapes that permit the decisionmakers and their advisors to consider
which roads to take within the wider policy context. Like the hundreds
of different projections of geographic maps (e.g., polar or Mercator),
they provide different ways of viewing issues and their backgrounds.
They enable policymakers to drill down to the appropriate level of
detail. In short, they provide an invaluable information management
tool.    (022)

2. Provide world-class, worldwide education for children. Our children
will inherit the results of this research. It is imperative that they
receive the increased benefits of visual language communication research
as soon as it is developed. The continued growth of the Internet and the
convergence of intelligent visual-verbal representation of mental models
and computer-enhanced tutoring programs will enable children everywhere
to learn the content and skills needed to live in the 21 century. But
this will take place only if these advances are incorporated into
educational programs as soon as they are developed.    (023)

3. Achieved large breakthroughs in scientific research. The convergence
of more competent computers, computer-based collaborative tools, visual
representation breakthroughs, and large databases provided by sensors
will enable major improvements in scientific research. Many of the
advances that we can imagine will come from interdisciplinary teams of
scientists, engineers, and technicians who will need to become familiar
rapidly with fields that are outside of their backgrounds and
competencies. Visual language resources (such as the diagram project
described below) will be required at all levels to make this
cross-disciplinary learning possible. This could
be the single most important factor in increasing the effectiveness of
nano-bio-info teams working together at their various points of
convergence.    (024)

4. Enrich the art of the 21 century. Human beings do not live by
information alone. We make meaning with our entire beings: emotional,
kinesthetic, and somatic. Visual art has always fed the human spirit in
this respect. And we can confidently predict that artistic communication
and aesthetic enjoyment in the 21 century will be enhanced significantly
by the scientific and technical developments in visual language. Dynamic
visual-verbal murals and art pieces will become one of the predominant
contemporary art forms of the century, as such complex, intense
representation of meaning joins abstract and expressionistic art as a
major artistic genre. This has
already begun to happen, with artists creating the first generation of
large visual language murals (Horn 2000).    (025)

5. Develop smart, visual-verbal thought software. The convergence of
massive computing power, thorough mapping of visual-verbal language
patterns, and advances in other branches of cognitive science will
provide for an evolutionary leap in capacity and in multidimensionality
of thought processes. Scientific visualization software in the past 15
years has led the way in demonstrating
the necessity of visualization in the scientific process. We could not
have made advances in scientific understanding in many fields without
software that helps us convert “firehoses of data“ (in the vivid
metaphor of the 1987 National Science Foundation report on scientific
visualization) into visually comprehensible depictions of quantitative
phenomena and simulations. Similarly, every scientific field is
overwhelmed with tsunamis of new qualitative concepts, procedures,
techniques, and tools. Visual language offers the most immediate way to
address these new, highly demanding requirements.    (026)

6. Open wide the doors of creativity. Visualization in scientific
creativity has been frequently cited. Einstein often spoke of using
visualization on his gedanken experiments. He saw in his imagination
first and created equations later. This is a common occurrence for
scientists, even those without special training. Visual-verbal
expression will facilitate new ways of thinking about human problems,
dilemmas, predicaments, emotions, tragedy, and comedy. “The limits of my
language are the limits of my world,” said Wittgenstein. But it is in
the very nature of creativity for us to be unable to specify what the
limits will be. Indeed, it is not always possible to identify
the limits of our worlds until some creative scientist has stepped
across the limit and illuminated it from the other side.    (027)

Researchers in biotechnology and nanotechnology will not have to wait
for the final achievement of these goals to begin to benefit from
advances in visual language research and development. Policymakers,
researchers, and scholars will be confronting many scientific, social,
ethical, and organizational issues; each leap in our understanding and
competence in visual language will increase our ability to deal with
these kinds of complex issues. As the language advances in its ability
to handle complex representation and communication, each advance can be
widely disseminated because of the modular nature of the technology."    (028)

Major Objectives Towards Meeting Overall Goals of Visual-Verbal Language
Research    (029)

"The achievement of the six goals described above will obviously require
intermediate advances on a number of fronts to achieve specific
objectives:    (030)

1. Diagram an entire branch of science with stand-alone diagrams.
2. Create “periodic” table(s) of types of stand-alone diagrams.
3. Automatically create diagrams from text.
4. Launch a project to map the human cognome.    (031)

5. Create tools for collaborative mental models based on diagramming.
"Ability to come to rapid agreement at various stages of group analysis
and decision-making with support from complex, multidimensional,
visual-verbal murals is becoming a central component of effective
organizations. This collaborative problem-solving, perhaps first
envisioned by Douglas Engelbart (1962) as augmenting human intellect,
has launched a vibrant new field of computer-supported collaborative
work (CSCW). The CSCW community has been facilitating virtual teams
working around the globe on the same project in a 24/7 asynchronous
timeframe. Integration of (1) the resources of visual language display,
(2) both visual display hardware and software, and (3) the interactive
potential of CSCW offers possibilities of great leaps forward in group
efficiency and effectiveness."    (032)

6. Crack the unique address dilemma with fuzzy ontologies.
"The semantic web project is proceeding on the basis of creating unique
addresses for individual chunks of knowledge. Researchers are struggling
to create “ontologies,” by which they mean hierarchical category
schemes, similar to the Dewey system in libraries. But researchers
haven’t yet figured out really good ways to handle the fact that most
words have multiple meanings. There has been quite a bit of progress in
resolving such ambiguities in machine language translation, so there is
hope for further incremental progress and major breakthroughs. An
important goal for cognitive scientists will be to produce breakthroughs
for managing the multiple and changing meanings of visual-verbal
communication units on the Web in real time."    (033)

7. Understand computerized visual-verbal linkages.
8. Crack the “context“ problem.    (034)

"It is essential to the accelerating research in the fields of
nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive
science that we increase our understanding of visual language. In the
next decade, we must develop visual language research centers, fund
individual researchers, and ensure that these developments are rapidly
integrated into education and into the support of the other
converging technologies."    (035)

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